Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research has undertaken a three year project titled Pluralism and Performance: The Many Voices in The Ramayana: from 2008 to 2011 . This project is focused on the Ramayana, around which performance, performers, experts from other fields and academics will attempt to throw up new knowledge and creativity. The Program is supported by the Ford Foundation.

Some of the objectives of the program:

The Ramayana is increasingly becoming a vexed text in our times and an objective is to allow the many voices in and around it to find release and expression in a variety of ways, so that the differences and conflicts surrounding it are accommodated within the consciousness of the community. Such accommodation we hope will lead to a climate of accommodation with regard to ‘difference’ in general.

An attendant aim is to allow the new knowledge emerging from out of the program to rescue an old cultural symbol from being suffocated by “purism”.

Through this program we hope to create a milieu where the richest aspects of contemporary culture are available to the traditional/folk performer/artist: giving her the opportunity to draw upon, and respond to, the thought of the most dynamic contemporary writers, thinkers, opinion-makers; and thereby enhance the scope of her form and make it viable in the contemporary world. Such an exercise for example should lead to the creation of new texts and new approaches to an old text and consequently compel performers to re create their performance language in new ways.

Therefore, we would create at Adishakti the opportunity for new and imaginative exchanges between Epic Texts and Contemporary Interpreters like historians, cultural psychologists, sociologists and performance; between Epic Texts and its Folk, Regional and Other variants; Epic Texts and Traditional and Contemporary Performance; Film and Epic Text; Epic Text, Classical poetry, Contemporary poetry, Heightened Dramatic Verse and Contemporary Drama; between Epic Text, Painting and Music; etc However the project remains incomplete if its scope is not widened to include Ramayana texts and performances from Southeast Asia. In addition to the above mentioned objectives the aim of such inclusion would be:

• To disclose and revitalize traditions of pluralism native to Asia and to its complex network of neighboring, adjacent and contiguous cultures and to draw attention to the deep but long occluded histories of exchange, communication and creative interaction between the cultures of Southeast Asia and South Asia.

• To generate forms of knowledge sharing and technique swapping, that might stimulate the continuation and development of an indigenous pluralism in contemporary Asian performance while exposing contemporary audiences to accessible and local forms of cultural cosmopolitanism.

In each of these initiatives, our profound hope is to revitalize performance itself as a powerful bridging agent, as a route between disparate worlds and knowledge systems.

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